oTake a break – take a few days off
after finishing your book and return with fresh eyes.
oClean up your text – use find and
replace to remove unwanted spaces and regulate your speech marks.
oComplete a spell check – at a minimum
your word processor will have a spellchecker, but there are plenty of add ins
that can perform a more comprehensive check for you.
oRead your book aloud (either you,
your computer or a friend). Get a feel for how it would sound to a reader and
notice any glaring errors along the way.
it’s the developmental edit. Look at the ‘big picture’ of your
oDoes the plot have a clear structure
(beginning, middle and end is most common but if you play around with the
timeline check you stay true to the chronology of the action)?
oIs the plot believable?
oAre all loose ends (including
subplots) tied up?
oCan you follow the plot? Or is it too
complicated with too many subplots?
oAre there any plot holes?
oDoes the plot have a consistent
theme? Is this theme evident throughout?
oIs there a clear central conflict?
Does it develop throughout the book and reach a logical conclusion?
oDo you have a main character (protagonist)?
oDo they have a motivation and move forward in the story?
oIs the character sufficiently developed and described?
oDo you have an appropriate-sized cast of supporting characters?
oDo they all need to be there?
oAre they suitably developed and distinguishable?
oDo you have an antagonist?
oDo they have some form of conflict with your protagonist?
oDo your characters have flaws? Are they human enough?
oAre characters believable and developed?
oAre characters adequately described?
oDo your characters have mannerisms, distinguishing features and personality traits?
oHave you established an appropriate world for your book to be set in?
oIs this world effective? Are there any obvious flaws to this world? Is it logical and realistic?
oIs there a sense of a timeline?
oHave you adequately described your setting? Have you taken time to develop important places within your story?
oIs your setting in keeping with the time and place your story is set in?
Other ‘Big Picture’ Considerations
oIs your opening scene effective in grabbing the reader’s attention?
oIs your dialogue believable and realistic? Do your characters have distinct voices, and do they stay true to their voices? Is the dialogue appropriate for the period of time the story is set in and the character’s personalities?
oIs there a consistent narrative voice? Is this narrator appropriate for the story? Do they stay true to their character as a narrator or do they go beyond their own knowledge of the story?
oIs there a consistent point of view for each scene?
Once you’ve made it through your developmental edit and completed any reworking, it’s time to tackle the copy edit. Look out for the following…
oSpelling, punctuation, grammar and typos
oConsistency – spelling of the character’s names, US or UK English spellings, the serial comma, the style of quotation marks you use, hyphenation.
oRemove unnecessary words – overcomplicated writing is difficult to read. Keep your sentences simple and take out any words that don’t add meaning.
oAvoid elaborate words – your reader won’t want a dictionary to decode your meaning.
oRemove any vague words that don’t add meaning – really, some, might, a little.
oRemove any clichés.
oCheck formatting of your dialogue – ‘I am going,’ said John not ‘I am going.’ Said John.
oStick to ‘said’ and ‘asked’ in your dialogue. If you’ve used more descriptive words (shouted, huffed, grunted etc.) do they need to be there, or has the dialogue already said it?
oLook out for favourite words. Is there a particular word or phrase you like to use a lot? Try to avoid repeating it.
oTry to keep your writing active – Try He hit John not John was hit.
oIs your tense consistent? Make sure you remain in the same tense throughout the book (unless your book includes a dramatic temporal shift).
oRemove unnecessary capitalisations, bold and italics.
Once you’ve worked through this checklist, you should find your book in pretty good shape for the next step, whether that be looking for a traditional publisher or the self-publishing route.
We have complete confidence in the quality of our books and are more than happy to show them off!